Factors Related to Student Persistence in Open Universities

Changes Over the Years

  • Kam Cheong Li The Open University of Hong Kong
  • Billy Tak-Ming Wong The Open University of Hong Kong
Keywords: student persistence, retention, attrition, open universities, open and distance education


Student persistence has long been a major challenge for open universities. Despite the evolution of open education, an overall high student attrition rate remains. This paper examines the changes and trends in factors related to student persistence in open universities. It reviews the empirical studies from the 1970s to the 2010s which reported factors influencing student persistence. The relevant studies were searched from databases, including Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Among the 108 studies collected, a total of 284 factors influencing student persistence were identified. The factors were categorised into student factors, institutional factors, and environmental factors. Their changes and trends over the years were examined. The results show that student factors were the most frequently studied over the years examined, with the major categories being students’ psychological attributes and outcomes. Institutional factors have been increasingly studied in recent decades, with the design and delivery of programmes and courses being the strongest category. Finally, environmental factors have been decreasingly examined, with factors related to students’ family and work being the two main categories. Based on the results, the implications for developing intervention and retention strategies for student persistence in open universities are discussed.


How to Cite
Li, K. C., & Wong, B. T.-M. (2019). Factors Related to Student Persistence in Open Universities: Changes Over the Years. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i4.4103